Leung Chun-ying

Tang calls for 'truly democratic' poll in 2017 - but won't say if he'll run

Former chief secretary urges rival C.Y. Leung to try to win back trust in his maiden speech and ensure a 'truly democratic' chief executive race

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2013, 8:27am

Failed chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen remains tight-lipped about his political future, but does not rule out the possibility of another run at the top job in four years under what he hopes will be "genuine" universal suffrage.

Tang and another former chief secretary, Anson Chan Fang On-sang, separately urged winner Leung Chun-ying yesterday to try to regain people's trust by setting out a blueprint for democratisation and better living in his maiden policy address.

Speaking on a radio programme, Tang said many friends had told him his defeat in last year's chief executive election was a blessing in disguise.

He also said his father wanted him to spend more time handling the family's textile business, which he had been neglecting.

Explaining his low profile since his defeat 10 months ago, he said he had been doing some travelling, including a recent trip with his family to Antarctica.

"Over the past nine years in the government, there were many places that I wanted to travel to, but did not have the chance," he said.

He said he had been working with the Buildings Department in its investigation into unauthorised structures at his home and would consider his political future once this was finished.

"I am thinking about how can I serve Hongkongers in different capacities, without giving the administration an impression that I am a threat or making irresponsible comments," Tang said.

While not saying if he would run in the 2017 chief executive election, he said Leung must do his best to ensure a truly democratic race. "I think the people … will look at whether it is a fair system before making a decision," Tang said. "This is very contentious, but it is achievable with earnestness and mutual trust. So I am urging the chief executive not to think about blaming others, but to do his best and fight for genuine universal suffrage from the central government."

He was responding to Leung's remark on December 16 that political divisions might undermine hopes of directly electing the chief executive by 2017 and lawmakers in 2020.

Describing the city as "chaotic", he said Leung must present a plan for economic, social and democratic development. "I can imagine that Hongkongers are a bit fed up, [asking] why there are never-ending quarrels? Why are there such intense arguments when the government rolls out a policy? … I think as we step into 2013, we hope governance can run more smoothly and that society will be less quarrelsome."

At a media gathering Anson Chan also called for a policy address that would "meet the people's requirements" and make progress on democracy. "And on livelihood issues, such as housing and a universal pension, you must have medium- and long-term solutions," she said.

Chan said the administration should launch a "genuine" consultation in the form of a green paper. And she said the pan-democratic camp, especially the Civic and the Democratic parties, must come up with their own electoral reform proposal.

"Nowadays many people believe that the pan-democrats only behave radically - they only know how to criticise, chanting slogans and protesting, but do they have substantial work and actual proposals?" Chan said.